Representatives of the Carter Centre yesterday met with the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, at his Carmichael Street Chambers. A first on the Centre’s planned engagements with several local stakeholders is to be apprised of the political situation.
Minister Williams said that the Centre has an interest in seeing free, fair and credible elections being held in Guyana. Otherwise, a representative of the Centre, spoke to the media after the meeting.
The rep, Brett Lacey, said, “We are here from the Carter Centre and we are happy to have an opportunity to meet with the Attorney General to hear from him about the laws of Guyana and his various arguments related to current circumstances in Guyana.”
One of the issues discussed by the two parties is that of overseas voting. The Attorney General said he discussed that it was former US President Jimmy Carter who helped introduce legislation that stopped overseas voting, under the Election Laws Amendment Act 4 of 1991.
He also said that the team was given a chance to peruse the Constitutional Reform Report, which states that it is necessary for persons to be resident in Guyana at the time of General and Regional Elections to vote.
One of the reasons this matter was discussed is that a consequence of the recent ruling by Chief Justice Roxane George Wiltshire on the House-to-House exercise, is that the names of persons should not be removed from the list. He said that the ruling seems to suggest that overseas persons can vote.
The Government’s appeal of that aspect of the CJ’s ruling is currently in Court.
Pursuant to that, Williams told the media that he intends to file a stay of that aspect of the Chief Justice’s ruling.
“There could be no question of merging the current register with the new register. We will have to argue these things before the court of appeal. I have appealed that decision and we will file a stay of that decision between [yesterday] and [today],” He said.
The team and the Attorney General also discussed the prospect of elections, the series of events that followed the No-Confidence Motion, the powers of the Executive, and the work of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
The Attorney General reiterated President David Granger’s words to the team that the President wants elections as soon as possible, and that he’s waiting on GECOM to definitively speak on its preparedness so that he can name a date.
The Centre’s team will be meeting with other local organs “to understand everyone’s perspective on current events here in Guyana”.
Earlier this year, the Carter Centre had visited GECOM to make certain proposals to better serve its mandate, but Lacy said that, this time around, the Carter Centre is “really just here to listen”.
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